Lionel Andrés Messi: The GOAT?

News Network
December 19, 2022

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For his legions of admirers, the debate about Lionel Messi's right to be regarded as the greatest footballer in history is officially over.

The absence of a World Cup winners' medal has long been Exhibit A in the argument about why Messi does not rank above Pele and Diego Maradona in football's pantheon.

But with Argentina's victory over France in Sunday's jaw-dropping World Cup final in Doha, the case against the 35-year-old maestro is now surely closed.

In a glittering career that has spanned three decades, Messi has won 37 club trophies, seven Ballon D'Or awards and six European Golden Boots.

There has been a Copa America title, an Olympic gold medal and a list of scoring and statistical records that may never be beaten.

The only remaining gap on Messi's CV -- a World Cup victory -- was comprehensively filled in on Sunday night over the course of 120 mesmerising minutes at the Lusail Stadium.

In his final World Cup appearance -- a record-breaking 26th for what it's worth -- Messi scored twice as Argentina battled to a 3-3 draw in extra-time before prevailing on penalties.

Not even Kylian Mbappe's magical hat-trick for Les Bleus could upset Messi's appointment with destiny on a night that seemed pre-ordained.

Former England and Barcelona forward Gary Lineker tweeted: "It's been an absolute privilege to watch Lionel Messi for nearly 2 decades. Moment after moment of spellbinding, breathtakingly joyous football. He's a gift from the footballing Gods."

"Lionel Messi. The best ever," was the instant verdict of England midfielder Declan Rice after Sunday's triumph. "We will never see a player like Messi ever again."

Whether Messi really is the 'greatest ever' is a question, of course, that is as futile as the answer is subjective, a parlour game that boils down to the eye of the beholder.

What is undeniable though is that by sheer volume and range of silverware, Messi has won more than the other serious rivals to his "G.O.A.T" status: Pele and Maradona.

While Pele's three World Cup triumphs remain unrivalled, the Brazilian icon's club career pales in comparison to Messi's.

In his peak years with Barcelona, the Argentinian regularly scaled the pinnacle of European club football, winning four Champions League titles - arguably a technically superior arena than international football.

Maradona meanwhile won only one World Cup, and never lifted a European Cup during a club career in Europe spent mostly with Barcelona and Napoli.

The counter-argument of course is that Pele and Maradona played in an era where players were offered far less protection than the likes of Messi and his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pele hobbled out of the 1966 World Cup finals after taking one brutal tackle too many; Maradona was also subjected to roughhouse treatment throughout his career.

Maradona's former international team-mate Jorge Burruchaga is reluctant to compare players across generations.

Burruchaga, scorer of the winning goal -- set up by Maradona -- in the 1986 World Cup final victory over West Germany says simply that Messi is the greatest player of his era.

"Win or lose, Messi is not more or less than Maradona," Burruchaga told AFP ahead of Sunday's final. "Messi is going to be in history whatever happens."

"There are five players in the past 70 years who can be considered the best in the world -- Di Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Maradona and Messi.

"Messi is in that list, whether he wins the World Cup or not. But I hope he does."

On Sunday, the hope of Burruchaga, and millions of Argentinian compatriots came true. 

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News Network
July 16,2024

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A shooting near a mosque in Oman killed at least four people and wounded several others in a rare act of violence in the Gulf nation.

The attack early on Tuesday took place in Wadi al-Kabir, a district east of the capital city, Muscat, during a major religious event for Shia Muslims.

Video from the scene shows people fleeing near the Imam Ali Mosque, its minaret visible, as gunfire rings out followed by a voice saying, “Oh God!”

Omani police said they’re taking “all necessary security measures and procedures … to handle the situation”. They gave an initial casualty toll of four killed and “several” injured.

“The authorities are continuing to gather evidence and conduct investigations to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident,” police said on social media platform X.

No motive or potential suspects were identified in the attack. A state of emergency was declared in the area.

‘Remain vigilant’

It appears some of the victims were Pakistani expats as Pakistan’s ambassador “visited three hospitals and met with the wounded”, an embassy statement said, adding, “all Pakistanis residing in Oman are requested to cooperate with the authorities”.

The US Embassy in Muscat issued a security alert following the shooting and cancelled all visa appointments on Tuesday.

“US citizens should remain vigilant, monitor local news, and heed directions of local authorities,” the embassy wrote on X.

Such an attack is rare in Oman, a frequent regional mediator with a low crime rate. It comes during the Muslim day of Ashura when Shia Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

Many Shia mark Ashura by performing a pilgrimage to Imam Hussein’s shrine in the Iraqi city of Karbala. Sunni Muslims commemorate the day through fasting. 

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News Network
July 10,2024

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Mangaluru: BJP leader and Mangaluru City North MLA Bharath Shetty has been booked for his alleged comments against Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi, police said on Wednesday.

At a press conference here, Mangaluru City Police Commissioner Anupam Agarwal said that an FIR has been filed by the police in Kavoor police station over the complaint lodged by K Anil, a Congress corporator of the Mangaluru City Corporation.

In the complaint, the Congress corporator alleged that MLA Bharath Shetty had made a provocative statement taking the name of Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Agarwal said an investigation is on.

Meanwhile, Congress party workers and leaders on Wednesday continued their tirade against Mr Shetty over his remarks against their party leader.

At a gathering in Surathkal on Sunday, the BJP MLA, who represents Mangaluru City North had stated that Mr Gandhi should be "arrested inside Parliament and slapped". This statement had gone viral, and Congress leaders and workers expressed their displeasure over it in the media and on social media.

Addressing a press conference, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Working President Manjunath Bhandary took a dig at the BJP MLA asking, "How will he enter Parliament? Will he carry a weapon to attack the Leader of the Opposition? Is Shetty a terrorist?" He further said, "I am certain that Bharath Shetty cannot even talk straight to a common worker of the Congress party, let alone confront Rahul Gandhi." 

Mr Bhandary attributed the main cause of BJP leaders' and legislators' outburst at Rahul Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi referring to the Congress leader as 'balak buddhi' (childish). This term must be expunged, he added.

He said that due to the behaviour of BJP MLAs in Dakshina Kannada district in recent days, "we are ashamed to elect MLAs from the coast". He accused the BJP of plotting riots because they "cannot accept the presence of the Congress government in the state".

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News Network
July 16,2024

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The Gaza Civil Defense says it has lost dozens of its employees ever since the Israeli military launched its relentless aerial and ground offensives across the besieged coastal terror in early October last year.

In a fresh statement, the organization put the number of fallen aid workers at 79, noting that the figure comes after one of its members succumbed to severe injuries sustained during the Israeli strike on a designated humanitarian safe zone at the al-Mawasi camp in southern Gaza, killing at least 90 Palestinians and wounding 300 others.

The fatality brings to three the number of aid workers killed in the attack, which was the deadliest in Gaza for weeks, according to the Gaza Civil Defense.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after Palestinian resistance groups carried out a surprise retaliatory operation into the occupied territories.

Concomitantly with the war, the regime has been enforcing a near-total siege on the coastal territory, which has reduced the flow of foodstuffs, medicine, electricity, and water into the Palestinian territory into a trickle.

So far during the military onslaught, the regime has killed at least 38,664 Gazans, most of them women, children, and adolescents. Another 89,097 Palestinians have sustained injuries as well.

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